Imagine not losing a conference match for eight years. That’s how long it’s been for the Los Banos High girls tennis team.
The Tigers extended their Western Athletic Conference winning streak to 100 consecutive matches with Tuesday’s 7-2 win over Central Valley at Los Banos High School.
The Tigers players and coach Lynn Barcellos celebrated the accomplishment with some cake after the match.
“I honestly didn’t think something like this would happen,” said Barcellos, whose Tigers haven’t lost a match since returning to the Western Athletic Conference in 2010. “You never know what’s going to happen. It’s just been an amazing job by the girls and I. You’re talking about three rotations of girls coming through the team.”
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The streak started with Barcellos’ daughter Alexis was a freshman and spent 4 years as the Tigers’ No. 1 player. Ever since Los Banos has continued to rack up the wins.
The closest Los Banos has come to losing is a 6-3 win over Ceres 2 years ago.
On Tuesday, the Tigers swept the singles matches as Shirley Liu, Haley Ballez, Kierstyn Cotta, Adrianna Moreno, Kiara Azevedo and Chloe Emerson all won their matches.
“It’s something that is really meaningful,” said Liu, who is a senior and has gone 46-0 during WAC singles matches during her career to help extend the streak. “It’s incredible to see. I don’t know of other teams that have won 100 games in a row. It’s significant to us because tennis is not a sport in the Central Valley that gets a lot of recognition.”
One of the things that makes the Los Banos streak special is there have been siblings and other relatives who have contributed to the wins over the 8-year period.
Shirley Liu’s older sister Tiffany was teammates with Alexis Barcellos when the streak started in 2010. Also part of the team that started the streak was Christina Soares, who has a niece, Sarah White, who is playing on the team now. Sisters Nicole And Amanda Marchese both also played for the Tigers at different times during the streak.
Some players like Marelee Garcia, Adriana Moreno and Taylor Torongo played all four years. Like Shirley Liu, Torongo went undefeated all four years in her different spots on the team ladder.
“Every team wants to win. This just pushes us a little harder,” Shirley Liu said. “We want to keep the streak going.”
“We try not to talk about the streak much,” Lynn Barcellos said. “I do hear them bring it up at the beginning of the year, especially the seniors. They don’t want to be the team where it happens to them and the streak ends.”
Barcellos feels the streak is a product of hard work. She says players are working year round, playing tournaments in the offseason. She says even if some of the girls are playing other sports, they’ll arrange times on the weekend to work with Barcellos.
“I really think it’s because I have girls who are willing to put in extra time,” Barcellos said.
How long with the streak last? The WAC will have a different look next year with realignment in the Sac-Joaquin Section. The league will offer new challenges with Beyer, Grace Davis, Johansen, Lathrop and Mountain House joining Los Banos, Pacheco and Ceres in the new WAC.
This much we do know. The streak will be a special part of the high school experience for all the Tigers players that played a part.
“It’s something that is an honor to be part of,” Shirley Liu said. “It’s nice to have contributed to it and carry it on.”
Notable Merced County Area Streaks
▪ Former Merced High boys basketball coach Vince Clemons started his career with 78 consecutive Central California Conference victories.
▪ Hilmar football won 46 consecutive games from 1986-1990 under former Yellowjackets coach Jerry Van Lengen. Hilmar won four straight Sac-Joaquin Section championships during that stretch.
▪ Dos Palos High football won 18 North Sequioa League championships in a row from 1985-2002. The streak started with former Broncos coach Tom Scheidt in 1985 and continued with Mike Sparks taking over for Scheidt in 1988.
▪ Le Grand High also strung together four consecutive section championships from 2010-2013 under former coach Rick Martinez.
▪ The Bears boys swimming team will take the pool this spring having won at least a share of nine consecutive CCC championships to go a long with 48 consecutive conference wins.
▪ The Stone Ridge Christian football team set a state record in 2016 with 10 straight shutouts by the Knights defense.
▪ The Merced High boys tennis team had a Central California Conference match winning streak that reached 79 consecutive victories. Current Bears coach Keith Tetangco played on teams that contributed to the streak.
▪ The Dos Palos High football team won five consecutive Valley Championships from 1997-2001. During that 5-year stretch, the Broncos won 15 straight playoff games.
▪ The Los Banos High girls volleyball team had a streak of 48 consecutive conference wins. The streak was snapped by El Capitan in 2015.
▪ The Merced High wrestling team won four straight section championships from 1975-78.